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Coffee with the Caps, Friday November 12

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Good Friday morning Caps fans, positive news is on the horizon — the weekend is nearly here.

If you thought the absence of MLS games this week would slow the news down then, well, you were mistaken.

Free agents/contract options became a bit clearer this week, though it will have minimal effects on the Caps in all likelihood. Details for the playoff clash against Sporting Kansas City have also come into focus (clear your calendars for Saturday, Nov. 20).

And of course their are the big time World Cup qualifying matches tonight between the U.S. and Mexico and Canada and Costa Rica, both of which will make for excellent viewing.

But we will touch briefly on what was perhaps the most intriguing news of the week: the announcement that the Canadian Premier League will be launching an expansion team in the greater Vancouver area come 2023.

There is much we don’t know about the CPL’s ninth team. We don’t know where in the Vancouver area the team will be playing, though locating it in Surrey has been tossed around a lot as a way of positioning it well in relation to the Caps.

The owners, SixFive Sports and Entertainment LP, also run Pacific FC, leading to speculation they might be looking to sell the island-based club. The addition of a Vancouver team would probably wind up being a net win for Pacific, however, as it guarantees them a really good rival. While the beef with the Caps (especially after this year’s Voyageurs Cup) is quite lively, the two teams obviously will not play regularly. This can rekindle the derby on a repeatable scale.

Other expansion options appear on the table, with long-held rumors of a Saskatchewan-based team coming into the fold at some point.

But it is easy to see why CPL pulled the trigger on this move. As mentioned above, it is a natural rival for Pacific FC and it is a clever way of applying some pressure in an MLS market when possible. Still, the fact of the matter is the Vancouver market is quite large and will be able to support two teams, particularly if one is placed somewhere like Surrey. It will surely give the league a boost in negotiating their broadcast rights, to boot.

And for the Caps? Well competition is always healthy and, given the frustration with the team in Vancouver, it was always going to be logical for the CPL to try and move in and tap into that by providing another option. I suspect this won’t poach many Caps fans, but rather those who were either more casual or who had become disenchanted and disengaged with the team anyway over the years, either because of poor play or off-the-pitch controversy.

The fact of the matter is that attendance at BC Place was growing towards the end of the year — winning does a lot to heal old wounds. But this is a team which has proved it won’t change unless pressure is applied and it seems another option — even if it is down a tier on the pecking order — is a good way of keeping management on their toes.

With any luck, the Caps will be firing on all cylinders come 2023, building on the strides of the last two seasons. If so, one imagines they will be a hospitable neighbor, having less to fear by the notion of a new upstart just down the block.

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